Retailers are expected to cash in on St. Patrick's Day

Retailers may be seeing more green this St. Patrick's Day.

According to the National Retail Federation, 122 million Americans, or 52.4%, said they would celebrate the Irish holiday March 17, up from 45.2% last year and the most in the survey's eight-year history.

Consumers also said they plan to spend slightly more than they did last year, an average of $33.97 compared with $33.05 in 2010. Total spending is expected to reach $4.14 billion.

Matthew Shay, president of the retail federation, said consumers seemed eager to "shake off the winter blues" by going all out for St. Patrick's Day. That bodes well for retailers and restaurants that will be offering special merchandise, meals and events.

The survey found that the most popular way to celebrate the holiday would be by donning green clothing; nearly 102 million people (83.3%) say they plan to do so.

In recent years, restaurants and bars have upped their holiday spirit, hosting parties and serving green beverages. Thirty-eight million Americans (31.2%) said they would attend a party at a bar or restaurant — also the highest in the survey's history.

Additionally, 41 million (33.9%) would make a special dinner, 31 million (25.1%) would decorate their home or office and 23 million (19.1%) would attend a private party.

"March is typically one of the slower months of the year in terms of consumer spending, but we expect this year's celebration to provide a nice boost for companies who are in the business of promoting the holiday," said Phil Rist, executive vice president of strategic initiatives at BIGresearch, which conducts the survey for the retail group.

The survey — which polled 8,273 consumers from Feb. 1 to 8 — also found that demographics played a role in who would celebrate St. Patrick's Day.

Adults ages 18 to 24 are more likely to attend private parties than any other age group, the survey showed, and adults ages 25 to 34 said they would spend the most (an average of $41.30).

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